Microsoft at Gapingvoid HQ

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[Myself, Microsoft’s Steve Wiens and their trusty photographer, Brian Smale setting up the tabletop shoot.]

Microsoft recently commissioned me to draw them a set of new cartoons, based around the new company vision of their CEO, Satya Nadella .

They asked me to draw them non-digital, old school, i.e. pen & ink on blank business cards, like I did in the earliest days of gapingvoid.

Best of all, they wanted to photograph everything, so they flew in Steve Wiens and Brian Smale to direct the shoot, all the way from Seattle.

Steve, a Senior Content Director at Microsoft, was integral to the creative process throughout.

The images haven’t gone public yet, so I can’t really show you what I drew. What I will say is, it was really amazing seeing the cards being photographed by a pro, table-top style. It’s a lot more slow and careful a process than just Instagramming them, the way I normally do.

The cartoons were built around redefining the idea of “Productivity”.

As Google owns “Search”, Facebook owns “Friends”,  and WordPress owns “Blogging” etc, Microsoft is on a mission to own “Productivity”, to make Microsoft the most productivity-increasing company in the world (You could argue it already achieved this once before in the 1990’s, but now is a competely new era with completely new challenges).

Satya Nadella calls it a “Cloud first, Mobile first” strategy.

We’re already at the stage where everyone in enterprise has a smartphone, and everyone in business will have to access the cloud. That’s a given.

Where the opportunity lies, is how the two relate to each other i.e. the tools. That’s where Microsoft comes in.

Three things that come to mind:

1. Satya is the first second-generation Microsoftee to lead the company. So it really is a new era.

2. Before becoming CEO, Satya was a cloud guy. He was instrumental in Micorsoft building one of the most sophisticated and robust clouds on the planet. The fact that Microsoft made one of the top cloud guys in the world their CEO (as opposed to say, a sales guy or a brand guy), speaks volumes IMHO about where Microsoft’s plans to go in the future.

3. Productivity doesn’t just mean doing the same ol’ stuff, cheaper and faster. Productivity means getting rid of the unnecessary crap in our lives, allowing us to do stuff that’s more meaningful. It’s more holistic definition of the word, that even if it takes Microsoft a while to articulate fully to the world, is a good cause worth fighting for.